My children do all their schoolwork and homework, but find it difficult at times to remember new material. Do you have any memory tricks that would help them? - No Recall


Learning new material can be entertaining if you and your children make up rhymes and jingles. For example, it's easy to remember that "In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." And the names of the states can be learned by singing the catchy tune "Fifty Nifty United States," published by Shawnee Press and available at music stores.

In the 1970s and 1980s, ABC-TV had "Schoolhouse Rock" song segments between Saturday morning cartoon shows. Perhaps you remember "Conjunction Junction" or "Interplanet Janet" (Solar System). Disney Video has released "Schoolhouse Rock" on DVD and VHS. Try these songs or make up your own to help your children remember important facts. Or you can go online to any search engine and look for educational songs or visit a music store.

The No. 1 secret to remembering new material is for children to review it until they thoroughly know it. Our memories simply don't keep information very long unless we do something to put it in long-term storage. Within two hours of studying unfamiliar material, children can forget almost half of it.

When your children read textbooks, they will get this necessary review if they use the SQ3R study technique. It begins with (s)urveying the material to be read and thinking of (q)uestions that will be answered. After the material is (r)ead, the answers to the questions are (r)ecited. Before the textbook is put away, the questions and answers are (r)eviewed. It also helps children remember new material if they understand it. When they don't, they should ask questions in class or ask for your help at home.

Reviewing new material can be accomplished by doing exercises in class, talking about it, rereading notes, doing homework practice or just thinking about it. This is one reason why it is so important for children to answer the question "What did you learn in school today?"

Another big help is having weekly review sessions when children go over new work. The weekend can be a great time for this. They certainly don't have to go over everything they've done; just look over the more difficult work. Auditory learners might like to talk to you about what they've learned, while visual and kinesthetic learners might like to take notes to go over later on. Teachers often make review much easier by giving children study guides to complete, which they can read over for review.